"Life Between the Levees" event (Natchez)

“Life Between the Levees: America’s Riverboat Pilots” is a new book containing 100 riveting oral histories of riverboat pilots on the Mississippi River, its tributaries and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterways.

Written and illustrated by award-winning author and photographer Melody Golding of Vicksburg, Miss., and published by University Press of Mississippi, the book chronicles nearly a century of riverboat pilots’ personal stories. More than 100 of Golding’s photographs accompany the stories.

The book will be the subject of Golding’s free illustrated program, “Life Between the Levees,” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, at Co-Lin's Natchez Campus. The event is sponsored by the Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center at Co-Lin Natchez library.

A book sale and signing session will take place from 5 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The book costs $50, with proceeds benefiting The Seamen’s Church Institute of New Orleans and New York. This agency serves mariners through education, pastoral care and legal advocacy.

“The stories in the book are as diverse as the storytellers themselves,” Golding said. “The volume is full of drama, suspense and a way of life a ‘landlubber’ could never imagine."

Among many topics, the pilots reflect on the time spent away from home, a universal reality for all mariners, Golding said. “As many pilots say when they talk about the river, ‘I hate her when I’m with her, and I miss her when I’m gone.’”

Golding, who says she “comes from a river family” is married to Steve Golding, who has been in the barge business for 45 years and is owner of Golding Barge Line.

Following a boat trip down the Mississippi River in May of 1979 with her future husband, “My destiny was sealed,” Golding said. “I am fascinated by the river. Now our sons are businessmen following in their father’s footsteps.”

Golding’s latest work follows her solo documentary exhibit on Hurricane Katrina, which was acquired by The Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History Archives Center, and her documentary photography and oral history project on wild boar hunting in the Mississippi Delta.

Her photographs are on display at the Department of Homeland Security and have been featured in solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and at numerous universities, colleges and museums.

Her previous books are “Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember” and “Panther Tract: Wild Boar Hunting in the Mississippi Delta,” both published by University Press of Mississippi.

Her photography has also been published by the Journal of Women's Studies and the Royal Photographic Society Awards Journal in London, England.

Individuals who would like to purchase a copy of the book in advance should email Beth.Richard@colin.edu or call at 601-446-1107. The book will be autographed and waiting at the library for pickup.